Category Archives: money choices

Looking at Your Money

How do you look at your money?  Let’s untangle how to actually see what money is trying to tell us.

There are many ways to do it.  Some of them are number intense.   Some focus on budgets and spreadsheets.  Some get you tied up in thinking about investments and stocks.  Some use online resources like Mint, while others call for using programs like Quicken.  Some folks even use my GOSH model with their money. (GOSH is a no number-crunching, in the moment, budget substitute…more about it in another blog, soon…I promise!)  Whatever method you use or don’t use there is something more fundamental than the methodology to consider when you look at your money.  It’s your attitude about it.

Your money, how skitched-20120718-232045you earn it, what you choose to do with it, all of that, is really a wealth of information about how you are living your life.  We’ve all seen the “Who done it” where the forensic accountant finds amazing clues on the suspect’s credit card statement.  That information is there, all the time, just waiting for you.  Money reflects your choices.

There are two basic things to consider as you begin the exploration of decoding what money is trying to tell you.  One is how you want to look at it.  I’ve listed a bunch of ways above.  They fall into the categories of “historical” and “in the moment”.  All the “crunchy” ones (requiring 10 key, columns or computers) are “historical”.  They show you what you have done.  They are fascinating in many ways, but frequently cause analytical overload.  The “in the moment” ones are generally more philosophical.  They are based on actively noticing what you are doing with your money in the moment.  What is that expense really about?  Does it have some underlying meaning?

Now hold on, I know it may seem that I’ve gone over an edge here.  AND we often have sly meanings behind how we use money.  I say “sly” because we aren’t likely to be conscious of them ourselves.  Money and how we use it can mean love, it can mean revenge, it can have fear behind it, or even hope.  Money can represent all sorts of things.  Your money and your life can be very different if you just get clear about what you are doing with money.  As you get clear about those hidden meanings behind the purchases, you can find other more effective ways to fulfill those desires.

We each have values that we care deeply about: fundamental tenets.  We seek a life that honors those values and yet often spend time and money doing things that are in opposition to our values.  It’s part of what’s going on when you spend a bunch of money on something and then later just feel hollow around it.  You weren’t really honoring what was important to you.  The solution is to get clear on what you are doing with your money and then change those actions and choices to ones that actually foster and support your values.

And there is an additional second crucial thing to consider as you look at your money.  It’s your “come from” or attitude.  For a variety of reasons (which are another blog) we mostly approach analyzing or exploring our choices from the perspective of Judgement.  There are those mental wagging fingers and critical comments.  The “should’s”, “ought to’s”, and “got to’s”.  NONE, not a one, of those are helpful.  They simply distract you from getting clarity with a cloud of emotion.

The most important thing to practice as you try to learn what your money has to teach you is to look at it from a neutral, non-judgmental sense of curiosity.  It’s simple.  Just notice what you are doing.  Imagine yourself saying “Hmm, isn’t that interesting.  I somehow make up that having more shoes (or purses, or cars, etc.) means I’m a more successful person.  Hmmm”.  Imagine discovering the meanings hidden in plain sight in your spending.

Noticing is the first step.  Do it with numbers or not.  Just do it. As you get clear, you get out of auto-pilot and have a choice.  A different choice is really all that is needed to get different results.

I’m here to help you untangle your money knots.  Just give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com

Ka’ching,

Shell Tain, The Untangler

Time Travel

Most of us have spent some time pondering time travel. That idea of being able to go back and do something differently, or even just go back and relive some time in our past, is timetravelcaptivating. It’s also great fun to dream about and imagine the future. We think this is the stuff of science fiction novels, which it often is. And we do it all the time.

Yes, as humans we practice time travel. Many of us spend much more time time traveling than we do being in the present.

I’m sure that my dog, Decaf, used to dream. She would run in her sleep, just pedaling those back legs like crazy. That could certainly be considered time travel. But mostly dogs are in the present. “Ah, here, bone! Wow! Hey, over here, really good smells. Woof!” Many of us have experienced a similar phenomenon with cats. “Yes, you may rub me there, that is nice. Oh, I’m done now, meow!”

I hadn’t really considered this idea until I was on a call last week with Jim Smith (www.TheExecutiveHappinessCoach.com). He talked about the idea that we are all time travelers. This idea entranced me, and naturally (for me anyway) that lead me to thinking about how time travel effects how we think about money. It’s a money knot to untangle! Ha!

Most of the angst we have about money has little to do with where money is in the present. In this moment your money is what it is. It is dollars and cents. It is numbers. It is NOT emotion. The emotion in money comes from the past and the future. It comes from your time travel and the time travel of your parents. They worried about money, being afraid it would never be enough. You learned to worry about it, and not only did you time travel with it, but you agreed with theirs. If you travel back in time and consider your past, there has always been enough wasn’t there? Sometimes enough was less than at other times but there was enough, right?

And your worry about the future is that there won’t be enough. You travel ahead and fret about it. If past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, then you will also have enough in the future, since you had enough in the past, right? Part of the problem is that deep down you probably believe that worrying about money actually helped you do better with it.

I’m going to disagree with that idea, and explore it in the present. So, think of something about money that is worrisome. Okay, now fret a bit about it. What are the thoughts you come up with? Most likely something about “I must save more. Who knows what might happen? What if I lose my job? What if the house catches fire?….” on and on. Notice that the worry actually takes you time traveling into the future. We can plan for the future, we can dream of the future but we can’t actually be there, can we? So worrying now just distracts you from the present and sends you time traveling. It gets you emotional and more importantly distracts you from being here now.

Here’s a revelation. All those choices that you made about money in the past are what created where you are today with money, right? And when you made most of them, you weren’t really conscious of them in the present moment. In that past place you were worrying about money in the future. You weren’t really and truly noticing what you were doing with your money in that now. You were making choices without clear thought or direction. That’s where the money mess started. Right there while you were distracted with time traveling.

There is only one place to fix your money…NOW! It’s not about the choices you made in the past or the ones you make in the future. It’s the ones you make now. We all may have some “clean up” to do around our money choices and thinking, and it starts now, right now.

How about practicing actually being in the present when you are dealing with money? What is that purchase you are making? What is it about? How does it support you? How does it really reflect what you want from your money? Be in the now with money…and know that doing that will change the future and the past from here on out!

I’m here to help you untangle your money knots. Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com

Ka’ching,

Shell Tain, The Untangler

Generosity With Boundaries

I’ve been practicing what I call “Generosity with boundaries” for ages. Frankly, it’s always seemed important to me. How can I help people stand in Plentyland if I’m generositycoming from scarcity? I need to walk my talk. Part of that is to be generous while taking good care of myself and thus, “Generosity with boundaries”. Of course, this idea, like money itself, isn’t just about money. It’s about using all of our assets in a way that is both generous and self-supporting. So ideally, it’s the notion that we help others with our time, energy and, sometimes, money. And we make sure that we help in ways that don’t jeopardize our own well being.

Let’s layer in the idea that money is reflective. What that means is that money doesn’t actually make things happen. Instead it reflects, or shows you, what you are choosing to do with it. It shows you if you are walking your talk, whatever that talk may be.

And I think there is also something in here about the idea of the Golden Rule: “Do onto others as you would have them do onto you.” Do I treat others the way I’d like to be treated? And do I use my money with others the way I’d like them to use it with me? I don’t think this concept, that is fostered by many religions and philosophies, is simply about being “‘nice”. I think it truly has to do with the idea that we get back what we put out.

We aren’t likely to gain respect by treating others with disdain. Being aloof isn’t likely to create friendliness in others. Sure, not everyone we are kind or generous to is going to be that way to us. However, our being kind will make the possibility of the kindness being returned more likely.

The real question is: Do you treat your money transactions the same way? Do you treat others around money the way you want to be treated? How do you want to be treated around money? For me, words like fairness and respect come to mind. I really want to come from a win/win place. I don’t want to be taken advantage of and I also don’t want to take advantage of others.

I’m not responsible for the choices others make around their money. I am responsible for how I use my money and how that reflects my ethics and values.

So what would “generosity with boundaries” look like for you and your money?

I’m here to help you untangle your money knots. Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com

Ka’ching,

Shell Tain, The Untangler

Here’s The Rub

I had an intriguing call with a client last week.  From the moment I heard her voice, I knew something was up.  She’s generally a positive person, but there was something going on.  Of course I asked her what it was.

She said she’d just gotten home from a massage.  Now that intrigued me, because, for me, a massage is a great thing.  It can have the effect of having emotion come up, just because I get so relaxed that I let it.  But usually I just feel relaxed and dreamy at the end of a massage.  I was curious.  What was going on?

rubTurns out that during her massage, the masseuse was regaling the client with the information from an article she had just read.  The article was all about the top ten stressors.  You know those things, right?  Death, marriage, divorce, moving, changing jobs, etc.

So there is my client: lying naked on a table, draped in a sheet, being massaged all while hearing all about the top things that can create giant stress.  Wow!

There are a bunch of things that are wrong with the picture.  The first is that it’s unprofessional of the masseuse to be chatting about anything during the massage.  Beyond that, it’s pretty disrespectful to the client.  It’s like the masseuse is absent-mindedly rubbing while thinking of other things.  And that may actually be the case.  But we don’t really want to know about that while we are on the table, now do we?

And now here’s the really important thing.  The crucial piece.  The client is settling for this.  She’s letting it go on.

Why?  Because that’s what we all do, and all too often.  We settle for less.  There can be a myriad of reasons why we do that.  Perhaps we are afraid of change.  Maybe we don’t want the hassle.  Sometimes we may feel embarrassed, or somehow rude if we ask for what we want.  And frequently, we may actually feel it’s all we deserve, that we somehow can’t have more or better.

And that is settling, and that’s where the rub is.  When we settle, we diminish ourselves, and we sacrifice something that is important to us.  And doing the settling doesn’t actually help the other person either.  All it does is harm to ourselves.

There is a distinction to make here between settling and compromising.  A compromise is a negotiated agreement.  Settling is just giving yourself away.  Accepting less.  With nothing in return.

It was a new idea to the client that she could have actually asked the masseuse to stop talking.  It was a new idea that she could choose a massage person who didn’t chat through the ‘rub’.  Many of us, this client included, have been raised to be polite.  Some of us have been raised to not ‘make a fuss’, and even be as invisible as possible.  Acting from that perspective just creates a never ending circle of not honoring our own worth.

One of the ways you can see if this is there for you is to notice where you are paying for things that aren’t quite what you want.  Where are you settling?  And why?

Frequently, when we don’t settle it takes longer.  We may have to try a bunch of different massage people, we may have to shop around.  And that, in my opinion, it time well spent.

You’ll know if you are settling when something doesn’t ‘rub you the right way’.  At that point you actually are at a cross road.  Do you keep settling, or do you make a different choice?

Ka-ching

Shell

Flamingo Pose

Turns out the best way to balance your money choices has nothing to do with your thinking; it’s actually a body thing.

By now most of you know that I love metaphors and analogies, but this is actually a literal thing, unless maybe it isn’t.  Brigham Young University has done a study about shopping, and they discovered that if people physically experience the sense of balancing right before or during shopping, then they make better choices.  By better we mean more “balanced” and less extreme.  Neither too little nor too much; just right.

Of course the buzz is to wear Stiletto shoes while shopping.  Personally I find those a challenge to stand in, let alone walk!  They would create stress for me, not balance.

Lots of magazines and newspapers have been having fun with this idea.  The study talks about doing yoga poses, riding the escalator, wearing wobbly shoes; things that have your body experience balance.

This resonates for me as both a metaphor and a literal thing.  As you find physical balance, you remind your brain about balance.  You become in balance.  Balance becomes natural and desirable.  You get to “be” and exude balance.

It seems also likely to me that this sensation of balance is also a way our right brain would communicate balance to our left brain.  Right brain thinking uses sensation and metaphor, not English, so it “speaks” to us through our bodies.

Maybe it’s as simple as this: when your body is in balance it’s pretty hard to have your brain go to one extreme or another.  Maybe, and somehow many people haven’t gotten this yet, our bodies and brains are actually connected?

So before you buy something, spend a moment or two in Flamingo pose.  Find your balance and see what it tells you.